One shot that stands out from the last U.S. Open at Pebble Beach was the 7-iron that Tiger Woods gouged out of the right rough on the par-5 sixth, a blind shot over the hill and onto the green to turn trouble into birdie.
He might not get so lucky if it happens this year.
That famous meeting of land and sea is a lot more intimate at this U.S. Open.
In a subtle change that could put even more fear into Pebble Beach, the USGA opted to eliminate the rough on six holes along the Pacific coastline, allowing errant shots to go over the cliff and into the biggest water hazard in golf.
Tiger is sure to be the main draw on greens all weekend. This is only his fifth tournament of the year, and he has managed to finish only 13 rounds.
Woods' playing partners for the first two rounds are Ernie Els and Lee Westwood. "I don't think you can get a better venue any place in the world. So it's great to be back," Els said.
Both Els and Woods said the greens are also playing firm this year and expect the course to play fast, and to get faster as the tournament continues into the weekend.
"It's playing a lot firmer than it does here in February," Woods said. "So, the greens are starting to get a bit more spring, starting to come to life now."
The tournament kicks off Thursday. It's a sell-out in more ways than one. No more tickets are availabe. Parking passes are gone and hotel rooms on the Monterey Peninsula are all hanging "no room" signs.
We also learned Wednesday that the Open will be back here in 2019.
Thomas J. O'Toole Jr., chairman of the USGA's championship committee, says the decision about bringing the Open back to Pebble in nine years accelerated during this past weekend and is still contingent on a formal contract coming together. He says it will be a "magical moment" as part of Pebble's 100th anniversary festivities.